Calendar Delays in Divorce Courts

The time it takes to prosecute a contested matrimonial case in the New York Metropolitan area, has reached unacceptable delays. For example, motions for temporary support which would include maintenance (alimony), child support, exclusive occupancy of the marital residence, custody and visitation, and the like, may span several months until the court renders a decision. Although a statute requires all motions to be decided within sixty days, this rule is mostly observed in the breach rather than in the observance.

When litigants have no way to speed up these delays in the Supreme Court, which is the court that divorce matters must be brought, there is another remedy that can be utilized to receive a faster court determination and that is the use of the Family Court. In most instances an award can be had within days if not weeks, but certainly not months. However, it is to be remembered that the Family Court does not have jurisdiction to grant divorces or to divide marital assets as does the Supreme Court. Many times it might be wise to file for support in the Family Court and later file for divorce in the Supreme Court. In that way a temporary support order would be in effect until the Supreme Court modifies the award in any respect.

Trial delays are even more severe. For example in the Queens County Supreme Court, the delay ranges between six months and a year, depending upon the number of cases assigned to the judge who will hear your case.

The apparent solution for these dilemmas is to consider resolving your differences by agreement. Doing so, will result in a far speedier conclusion to your matrimonial matter, and will obviate the attendant expense litigation engenders, and eliminate the emotional stress, and great expense, that a knock down battle in the courts will create. Most matters can be resolved over a period of weeks if the parties are willing to compromise, and to lay bare their finances. If valuation problems occur, such as the fair market value of a business, it would be in both parties' interests to retain a neutral business appraiser which would save an enormous amount of time and money. Other alternate dispute resolution alternatives should also be examined to preserve cost and needless delays.

Being forewarned is to be forearmed.